As the name implies, the Columbia Pictures thriller Vantage Point tells the same story from different perspectives. The film follows eight witnesses to the same event - the attempted assassination of U.S. President Ashton (William Hurt) at a rally in Spain – as they share what they saw go down in separate vignettes. Matthew Fox’s character, Secret Service Agent Kent Taylor, is smack dab in the thick of things as one of the lead agents at the scene of the crime.
Unfortunately, Secret Service agents are a secretive bunch and so Fox didn’t have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a real agent in order to get into character. “It was always very important to [director Pete Travis] that we pull off the logistics of what we were doing as Secret Service agents and as that whole team, that the real physical elements of it, where guns are carried, how voice things are used, the structure of getting in and out of cars, that that was accurate. We did have consultants,” explained Fox. “We had consultants that were affiliated with them enough to give us advice that was accurate, so I hope that any Secret Service agents that see the movie would feel like we didn’t make any glaringly bad mistakes.”
Another element of Vantage Point that kept the actors on their toes was having to do the same scene multiple times. The assassination sequence is shown over and over again from different points of view, and with different elements added in each time. Having to replay the same scene was tough on the actors. “Just on a technical basis, film can be a very tedious process,” said Fox. “But when you get into a situation where you're going to tell the same events through eight different perspectives, it becomes like eight times as tedious. You're doing these sequences over and over and over again. I just remember watching William [Hurt] get shot on that podium and I was so impressed by, it didn't matter what perspective we were in and how far away that action was happening from what the perspective that Pete Travis was focusing on, William Hurt every single take was so there. He was so there. That's a professionalism that I respect a great deal. So it was challenging in that respect.”
“This movie and the concept of perspective is something that the idea that one event can be perceived so differently by two different people depending on where they're standing, who they are and how they want to perceive it, if they have an agenda to perceive it a certain way, is something I think about all the time in my life, in my own individual microworld in relationships that I have. I think about it in relationship to nation states and politics and how things work around the world. It's always amazing to me how people can walk around thinking that the way that they see the world is the only way, because it's just not true.”
Director Travis and his cast had to be very careful about dropping hints along the way. They didn’t want to give away any twists too early in the story. “That was the real fun thing for Pete Travis and I to do together. I loved working with him and he's a real actor's director in that he gets right in there with you. He's thinking about the character from the point of view of the character. We really tried to orchestrate and massage those little opportunities that we had that in the rewind, in the sort of review - either visually or in your mind - to go, ‘Oh, I should have seen that the first time.’ But you can push that too far.”
Vantage Point features an incredible group of actors, and Fox rattled off each name when asked who he was thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with on the project. “Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, William Hurt... I mean, I was just very happy to be working in the same movie as all three of them as a huge fan. I respect their work a great deal. William Hurt, I'm just a huge fan of. One of the first movies I remember going to the theater and seeing, and it just really affected me, was Body Heat. I was probably 16 I guess and man, that was a hot movie. I just love that movie, noirish, femme fatale, it was cool. That was one of the things I kept thinking about as I was shooting this movie and I'm playing the lead Secret Service agent protecting the President of the United States of America who's played by William Hurt. It was just awesome. It was cool. I have those moments where I'm just like, ‘This is very surreal, but great.’”